David is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, positions he has held for the past decade. In addition, he serves as a senior political analyst for CNN and works actively with a rising generation of new leaders.
In the past, he has served as a White House adviser to four U.S. presidents of both parties: Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. He wrote about those experiences in his New York Times best-seller, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
In the 1980s, he began a career in journalism. Starting with the McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in 1984, he has been a regular commentator on public affairs for some 28 years. Twice he has been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards. In the late 1980s, he was chief editor of U.S. News & World Report, working with publisher Mort Zuckerman to achieve record gains in circulation and advertising.
David is a member of the D.C. Bar, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the U.S. executive committee for the Trilateral Commission.
He is an honors graduate of Yale and the Harvard Law School
A once-in-a-lifetime educator, Rafe Esquith may be the most inspiring school teacher in America. He's been called "a modern day Thoreau" by Newsday, "a genius and a saint" by The New York Times, and "the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country" by The Washington Post. For the past two decades, Esquith has taught fifth graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and violence. His exceptional classroom at Hobart Elementary—known simply as Room 56—is unlike any other in the country.
Esquith's students are mostly immigrants or children of immigrants, living in poverty and learning English as a second language. Yet under his tutelage, they voluntarily come to class at 6:30 in the morning and often stay until five in the afternoon. They learn math, reading, and science. But they also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, often score in the top one percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend the best universities. For his near-heroic work, Esquith is the only teacher to be awarded the President's National Medal of the Arts. He has received the National Teacher of the Year Award and won accolades from Oprah, the Queen, and the Dalai Lama. He's also written four books, with his most recent being the critically acclaimed Real Talk for Real Teachers, published in 2013. His other books include Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, There Are No Shortcuts, and Lighting Their Fires. Esquith has also been featured, along with his students, in the PBS documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans.
At age 20, Adam Steltzner was just another wannabe rock star kicking around small clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. By age 35, he was a Ph.D. engineer and rocket scientist at the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratories. In 2012, he made history as Team Leader and lead engineer for the Mars rover Curiosity EDL -- the perilous Entry Descent and Landing phase famously known as "Seven Minutes of Terror." The time in which the one-ton rover must go from 13,000 miles per hour as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a dead stop on the surface. As EDL Team Leader, Steltzner's mission was to bring out the best in his team rather than appear the smartest guy in the room.
Steltzner led a breakthrough team of engineers that invented the pioneering landing system that spectacularly placed the Curiosity rover on the Martian surface. In his keynote speeches, Steltzner brings a rock star's presence and a storyteller's gift to the stage. He reveals how audacious goals, unbridled thinking and breakthrough innovation can make the impossible, possible. And Adam shares his observations about the power of human curiosity and how it can change our world. He’s currently working on a new book, The Right Kind of Crazy: The Science of Executing Transformative Ideas.
Bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and social critic Anna Quindlen’s library of work provides perspectives on daily life, delicately balancing the political with the personal. Her astute commentaries on everything from women’s issues to public policy to presidential elections translate into her popular fiction and non-fiction books and appear in the world’s most influential newspapers and magazines.
In total, 12 of Quindlen’s books, including six of her novels, have appeared on The New York Times Best Sellers list. One True Thing: A Novel became a feature film starring Renee Zellweger and Meryl Streep. Blessings and Black and Blue were both made into TV movies. Her book, A Short Guide to A Happy Life, sold well over one million copies. It was followed by Being Perfect; Good Dog. Stay, about her beloved black Labrador, Beau; and the novel, Every Last One.
Quindlen’s latest book, a memoir on aging, Lots Of Candles, Plenty Of Cake was published in April 2012 and debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Her latest, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, will be released in January 2014.
She was recently named one of the top “100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States of the Last 100 Years.”